California becomes 1st state to require solar on all new homes

Alicia Cross
May 10, 2018

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) - The Latest on California's move toward requiring solar panels on new homes. At the moment, San Francisco and a few other California towns require any new buildings under 10 stories to have solar panels. In all, the new residential requirements are expected to make a single-family house $9,500 more expensive to build on average, but save $19,000 in reduced utility bills over a 30-year period, according to the Energy Commission. But how quickly the investment yields returns depends on a whole host of factors, including how big your solar panels are, the price of energy where you live, and how much sun you get. If the building's roof is too small or located in an area where it can't receive adequate sunlight, the requirement will be lifted.

The state is already the nation's leader in solar power.

Almost 16% of the state's electricity a year ago came from solar.

Focus will be on residents achieving more than just net-zero energy in their living accommodations. They would still have to draw some of their electricity from the power grid. They'll add incentives for buildings that have a Tesla Powerwall system for energy storage and there won't be a need for a large solar array.

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The California Energy Comission says that the new rule should cost the average single-family homeowner an additional $10,000 or so in upfront building costs. But Republican legislative leaders said Californians can't afford to pay any more for housing in the state's already extremely expensive market.

About SEIA®: Celebrating its 44 anniversary in 2018, the Solar Energy Industries Association® is the national trade association of the USA solar energy industry, which now employs more than 260,000 Americans.

Utilities that objected to the new rate-design "could contend that the introduction of mandated distributed solar sufficiently alters the policy landscape to warrant further review of the compensation levels paid to excess generation", ClearView said in their report, published ahead of the energy commission's decision. However, CR Herro, VP of environmental affairs at real estate developer Meritage Homes, tells The Independent that construction would rise closer to $30,000.

California has one of the most ambitious renewable energy mandates in the country, with a goal of sourcing half of its electricity needs from renewable sources by 2030.

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